The Brit recalls her life leading up to chart-topping status and her first Grammy nomination
“We were in the same year! We used to sing at lunchtime together. Obviously at that time we didn’t realize that we’d both [eventually] have music out,” the singer, 26, tells PEOPLE. “But she’s amazing. She was always that really bright energy at school.”
Jessie J says they’re still friendly, but with red-hot careers, they don’t always have time to connect. “She’s wicked, and every time I get a chance, I try and text her,” she says. “But she’s super busy Global superstar, mum – standard.”
She also hopes they can team up and record together one day. “She’s on my wish list. I would love to hear our voices together because we’re so different vocally,” Jessie J says of Adele, adding with a laugh: “We wouldn’t do a classic pop song, though, but something deeper.”
Though she’s known for hits like the super-catchy “Price Tag,” which found a new level of fame when it was covered a cappella in Pitch Perfect, Jessie started out as a songwriter, penning hits for artists like Chris Brown and Miley Cyrus.
“It was initially for me and about coming to America,” she says of Miley’s inescapable anthem “Party In the U.S.A.” “And [the original lyrics] were: ‘I hoped off the plane at L.A.X. / With my tea and my cardigan.'” Not that she regrets giving up the tune: “I feel like I was so lucky. At the time, I was like, ‘God, should I have kept it?’ But having my name appreciated and understood as a credible songwriter was really important.”
These days Jessie is front and center, basking in the success of her now-ubiquitous hit “Bang Bang” with Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj, off her latest LP, Sweet Talker, which she says came together magically.
I heard Ariana, and I was like, ‘I can’t even deal with this,” she says. “And when I heard the final mix and Nicki’s on it and said my name, I cried! I proper cried. I was like, ‘It’s Nicki Minaj! I didn’t think this was going to happen!’ ”
For more on Jessie J, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on stands Friday.